"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" Hebrews 11:1

Faith

Faith is not just a summary of the things we believe about God. This may sound obvious but this is what non believers appear to think we mean when we talk of faith, "Believe the right religion and you will get to heaven."

The word translated as Faith is Emunah, in the Hebrew scriptures. The sense of emunah is much more of Trusting and Faithfulness than merely believing.

Faith is not something passive in agreeing to a set of beliefs, but active in acting on what we believe. It is no good assenting to a belief that Jesus died for our salvation; we must grasp that and trust our lives to it and build our lives upon it. This is why James wrote (Ch 2 v24-26)

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Faith into action

What did Jesus say we could do with faith?  

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, `Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." (Matthew 17 v20)

The context here is one of Healing, although it surely applies to other matters also.

Look at the sequence.....

Have faith - believe what Jesus said is true and can be acted upon.

Address the problem - Even if the problem is as big as a mountain,

Trust in the words of Jesus,

Do what he says,

Take up the authority he has given you,

Say to the mountain - speak - command

and it will move - (Maybe not first time, but it will move)

This is not to deny that we should pray, and that we should pray in Faith / Trust / Faithfulness but in some cases Jesus calls us to exercise our faith and his authority.

Indeed the combination of the meanings of emunah - Faith / Trust / Faithfulness in prayer is particularly important.

We must believe God is willing and able to answer; indeed that he is listening.

We must Trust he is going to answer; not make the request and then live as if nothing is going to change. *

We must be faithful in praying; not giving up if our request is not immediately answered as we expect.

* In the words of a new beatitude from Malcolm Hedding.

"Blessed are those who do not expect anything, for they will not be disappointed."

 

Interfaith

This is why Interfaith dialogue is so futile; if not actually dangerous. Interfaith dialogue between mutually exclusive faiths, such as Christianity and Islam, must work on building a platform of interpretations of texts on which there is not disagreement in order to declare some kind of solidarity.

This is not the same as meeting to address issues of how to live in proximity to one another in justice and peace, without either party having to renounce matters of faith.

There are clever Muslim ministers who are using Interfaith forums to bind Christians to formulae of common belief that prevent them declaring the central truths of Christianity, whilst Islam continues to work towards the Islamisation of the community.

 

Work started 16/11/13

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